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Savio to Man City: Girona sensation set for move but what will teenage Brazilian winger bring to Premier League?

Savio has starred in Spain on loan at Girona this season and the teenage Brazilian is now set to join Manchester City. Adam Bate went to watch him play to find out why the winger is so highly rated and looks at why all eyes will be on the fee paid for his services…

Credit - Getty/AP Photo
Image: Manchester City are set to bring in Savio next season after shining for Girona

For all the success enjoyed by the City Football Group, winning trophies across different continents, the emergence of a breakout star to take his place among Pep Guardiola’s squad has been missing. Savio’s graduation changes that.

"My goal was always to get to City," he has said, by which he meant Manchester. The 19-year-old Brazilian winger has agreed a deal to join the Premier League club from Troyes following a spectacular season on loan at Girona in which he has lit up La Liga.

Girona have been one of the stories of the season in Spain, currently wedged between Real Madrid and Barcelona in the table. Savio's swagger out on the left wing has captured the imagination, a feature of what has made Michel's men so exciting to watch.

Savio tops the charts for most dribbles completed in La Liga this season
Image: Savio tops the charts for most dribbles completed in La Liga this season

He has provided seven assists from open play - more than anyone else in the competition - and completed the most dribbles too, easing past players with speed and skill. "Since the arrival of Vinicius I haven't seen a one-on-one talent as impressive," says Michel.

Visiting the Estadi Montilivi in Girona for last month's 5-1 dismantling of Sevilla, the sight of Savio in full flow was a genuine thrill. This is a player who glides as he dribbles, all feints, flicks and body swerves. Shades of Garrincha. Gone with one drop of the shoulder.

It is rare, almost old-fashioned, to see an out-and-out winger at the top level of the game. The left-footed Savio has occasionally been deployed cutting inside from the right but his strength is isolating his full-back on the left, beating them on the outside and crossing.

Artem Dovbyk (Girona FC) celebrates with his teammate Savio (Girona FC) after scoring during La Liga football match between Girona FC and Sevilla FC, at Montilivi Stadium on January 21, 2024 in Girona, Spain.
Image: Artem Dovbyk celebrates with Savio after scoring for Girona against Sevilla in January

Artem Dovbyk is not exactly Erling Haaland but the Ukrainian target man has done a fine impression of the world's best striker this season, feasting on such service. That night against Sevilla, he helped himself to a hat-trick, the first two goals laid on by Savio.

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City bringing in such a talent from elsewhere in the group will lead to inevitable questions about Savio's fair value, particularly in these fraught times where matters of financial fair play are to the fore. Given his accomplishments in Spain, he should not come cheap.

Sky Sports have teamed up with leading sports intelligence agency Twenty First Group in an attempt to shed some light on the matter. Their fair market value for Savio is £40m, rating him seventh among the world's top-rated wingers under the age of 21.

Interestingly, their model anticipates his value rising to £62m within two years. That is the biggest rise in expected transfer value among the 15 most valuable young wingers. It reflects the feeling that Savio is a player who is on the cusp of another big leap.

His potential has long been recognised. His breakthrough in Brazil came early, becoming the youngest Atletico Mineiro player to score in the Copa Libertadores. But finding the right home for his talents in Europe has proved a little trickier than expected.

Troyes' relegation to France's second tier provided a problem and a loan move to play for PSV in Eindhoven was more difficult than it might have been. Savio ended up having more minutes with their age-group side than he did for Ruud van Nistelrooy's first team.

Undoubtedly, he has found a system and a structure that works for him in Girona. As a result, the temptation might be to allow him to stay there for another season with Champions League football looking a realistic prospect for Michel's side next season.

But if deemed ready for the Premier League's reigning champions, the question of how he can fit in at Manchester City is an intriguing one. In the past, Guardiola has tended to demand different qualities from his wingers, although that is changing.

Savio (Girona FC) duels for the ball against Hermoso (Atletico de Madrid) (l) during La Liga football match between Girona FC and Atletico de Madrid, at Montilivi Stadium on January 3, 2024 in Girona, Spain
Image: Savio goes on another of his dribbles for Girona against Atletico Madrid

Jack Grealish was favoured because of his rare ability to retain possession out wide in the final third. It helped City maintain control.

But the increased use of man-to-man marking in the Premier League appears to have persuaded Guardiola to shift focus. Jeremy Doku has been encouraged to use his one-on-one skills, attempting a dribble more often than any other player in the Premier League.

But Doku is right footed. That has helped him cut inside to score on occasion, as he did at West Ham, but more frequently it means attempting a cut-back with his left foot. Five Premier League assists represents a promising return but could Savio offer something else?

He is a potential heir to Riyad Mahrez on the right but it is the potential to provide width on the left that is more interesting. Those pull-backs from the by-line would be a little more straightforward for him to execute successfully on his strongest side.

Given his route, he is a symbolic signing for City, regardless. But Savio has the ability to be a significant one on the pitch too.

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